Why do you say Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar are taxis?

Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) perform the exact same service as taxicab companies. TNCs recruit drivers, market for passengers who need immediate transportation service, dispatch drivers to pick up passengers, and charge passengers for rides so the driver and the dispatch service can earn a profit.

Isn’t this campaign just trying to dissuade customers from using Uber, Lyft and Sidecar?

The ‘Who’s Driving You?’ campaign is about safety. We have repeatedly raised concerns that people will be hurt by these companies, and that the companies will take no responsibility whatsoever when that happens. These predictions have become reality, most notably with Uber, which is seeking to avoid responsibility in the death of a six-year-old child as well as for numerous physical and sexual assaults by its drivers. We firmly believe in the use of technological innovation to improve the customer experience, but this must never come at the expense of safety.

Don’t Uber and Lyft have more, not less, insurance than taxis?

Uber, Lyft and Sidecar all claim to possess $1 million “liability” insurance policies. This is intended to sound impressive and reassuring, but experts concur “ridesharing” insurance contains treacherous gaps in coverage.

For example, the period during which a TNC driver has the app turned on and he’s waiting to be pinged is now commonly known as “Period 1.” Though a new California law has wisely mandated TNCs provide primary coverage for Period 1 beginning July 1, 2015, and new hybrid insurance policies are available to cover this phase in a certain cities and states, TNCs continue to operate without properly insuring this phase of operations in most cities and states. Personal injury and wrongful death suits are currently being litigated in state courts around the country that will test the limits of the existing TNC policies. Taxicabs are required to carry expensive primary commercial auto liability insurance coverage costing between $5,000 and $6,000 per vehicle. TNCs are evading these costs to maximize profits.

Aren't you just protecting the turf of traditional taxi and limousine companies?

No. The licensed industry is not at all against innovation. In fact, we love innovation, and we love this technology. What we object to is allowing TNCs to avoid vital standards of public safety, cost, service, and insurance protections.

Is your ultimate goal to put ridesharing out of business?

No. We only wish to compete fairly. Competition involves following a single set of rules, and may the best competitor win. Taxicab companies are required to do business with proper insurance, background checks conducted by law enforcement and involving fingerprinting, vehicle inspections, and requirements to provide service to the entire community in most cities. TNCs should follow the same rules. Also, the term “ridesharing” was hijacked by TNCs, which do not offer true ridesharing. Ridesharing refers to any nonprofit community service used in transporting commuters exclusively between their place of residence and their place of employment, or termini near such places. The term ridesharing includes both carpooling and vanpooling.

Aren’t TNCs environmentally friendly? Why would you be against that?

No, TNCs are not environmentally friendly. In fact, they’re the opposite. Traditionally, licensed taxicab companies place a finite number of vehicles on city streets—typically determined by a city’s leadership. A lack of such limits has led to well-documented cases of excessive numbers of vehicles increasing pollution, as well as clogging streets and parking spaces and decreasing driving earning because of oversupply. TNCs don’t follow these environmentally friendly rules. Uber has placed 15,000 drivers on San Francisco streets—roughly the equivalent of New York City’s entire yellow taxicab fleet.

Are you against innovation?

We are 100% in favor of innovation. The use of apps by TNCs does not put them in a class by themselves; thousands of licensed taxicab companies across the world use them as well. Our objection is to allowing anyone with a car—whether a TNC company or private citizen operating on his or her own as an unlicensed, bandit cab— to cruise the streets looking for passengers without proper screening, insurance, and a mandate to serve all of a city’s communities, including low-income areas and people who require wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

But taxi companies have had drivers with criminal records, too, right?

It’s a valid point that some bad apples slip through the cracks even when police administer the very best criminal background checks. But this makes the case for more scrutiny of the TNC’s screening processes, not less. TNCs use low-cost, third-party background checks on applicant names and social security numbers that are not thorough enough. Time and time again, felons have been proven to be behind the wheel of TNC vehicles due to these inferior checks. Uber, for example, has far fewer vehicles than taxicab companies, and yet the news is filled with stories of its drivers being charged with rape, assault, kidnapping and other crimes.

Why do you keep saying this is unfair competition? Isn’t this just capitalism?

It’s unfair because on one hand you have the taxicab and limousine industries that have to follow rules and these rules cost money. On the other hand, you have TNCs that refuse to follow the same costly rules, and therefore can dramatically minimize business overhead.

For example, taxicabs are required to carry expensive primary commercial auto liability insurance coverage costing between $5,000 and $6,000 per vehicle. It costs about $100 per driver to do a proper criminal background check. Taxicabs and limousines also have to be inspected multiple times a year due to their heavy commercial usage. TNCs don’t follow these regulations. They cobble together cheaper insurance with acknowledged coverage gaps. They screen drivers with cheaper, faster and less effective criminal background checks. And they frequently forgo vehicle inspections altogether. Who wins? TNCs can cut costs because they’re skipping the financial burden of paying for essential safety costs. Who loses? The public . . . by being exposed to treacherous insurance gaps and repeatedly assaulted by improperly screened TNC drivers.